MAULE
"Maule"

(Gates of Hell Records)

1. Evil Eye
2. Ritual
3. Summoner
4. Maule
5. Red Sonja
6. Sword Woman
7. Father Time
8. March of the Dead
9. We Ride

RATING: 7.5/10

A new year has begun and, like clockwork, a flood of bands paying homage to yesteryear's NWOBHM sound has emerged. A few of those bands may breakout from the rest of the pack like HAUNT and NIGHT DEMON have in recent years. However, dozens more will generate records evoking the warm and fuzzies from heavy metal's building blocks, but their record's will not be reached for after an initial listen. Vancouver's MAULE is the latest band to throw their hat into the traditional-metal pool. The group isn't quite ready for breakout status yet, but there are plenty of puzzle pieces within their self-titled debut indicating more to come than mere idol worship.

"Evil Eye"'s opening moments make it clear that the hallmarks of old-school metal sounds are going to be abundant throughout the record. Galloping riffs, warm bass lines from the band's namesake Johnny Maule, and anthemic choruses designed for maximum live-show fist pumping abound from the song's initial moments. Jakob Weel's vocal performance maintains a consistent snarl that matches the energy of the rhythm guitar riffs he is laying underneath. He adapts just enough to each track's individual quirks to avoid becoming a monotone that wavers from excitement to boredom. Tracks such as "Ritual" and "Maule" have a razor-sharp thrash-level pace to their structure, and Weel's vocal performance matches that urgency and escalation accordingly.

Another favorable trick that MAULE pulls off is the seamless pairing of Daniel Gottardo's shredding guitar solos with Weel's rhythm riffs. MAULE make sure that Gottardo's solos stand out on tracks such as "Summoner" and "Red Sonja", while remaining in service to the song itself. There are plenty of blistering moments that make you think that Gottardo doesn't realize that the part of "Super Shredder" was cast more than thirty years ago by the producers of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze", but underneath that sizzle, Weel's rhythm riffs don't get lost in the shuffle and remain bruising and prominent throughout. Gottardo was recently replaced in the band's lineup by Justin Walker, and if Walker can match Gottardo's intensity and proficiency moving forward, he will melt many faces at live performances.

The one pitfall that MAULE falls into here is a desire to inspire whiplash headbanging. The first six tracks are all fast-paced speed runs that blur together by the end of the record's initial two-thirds. The group finally slows down and settles into an ominous trudge on "Father Time" proving more than capable of dishing out a worthy mid-tempo beatdown on that and "March of the Dead". Their self-titled debut shows breakout potential if on future releases they can better juggle furious speed with that sense of ominous dread.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).